Welcome to More about Nihilism

People have a hard time understanding Nihilism, and definitions do little to help because they don't put this idea into a human context. Therefore I have included my personal attitude about Nihilism below. I do not claim to be a definitive source on Nihilism. Every nihilist has his or her own way of relating to the meaninglessness of life; my experience is just one example. Some of the things I have included to explain nihilism are:

What is Nihilism?

nihilism, ethical
The denial of the validity of all distinctions of moral values. As this position involves in effect the denial of the possibility of all ethical philosophy, it has seldom been taken by philosophers. In the history of thought, however, less pure ethical nihilism sometimes appears as an intermediate stage in a philosophy which wishes to deny the validity of all previous systems of value as preliminary to substituting a new one in their places.

The Dictionary of Philosophy
Frederick L. Will

Ancient Zen Scripture

Meeting a Zen master on the road,

Face him neither with words nor silence.

Give him an uppercut

And you will be called one who understands Zen.

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Questions People Ask Me About Nihilism

How did you get this way?

There was no sudden revelation, but I've always felt different. I never understood why people made up all this stuff about God and morality. I was just confused by it.

You must believe in something.

Why? People are so desperate to deny the possiblity that a person might not believe in the things they do.

How can you live if you don't believe in anything?

It's not like a belief system is necessary to breathe, or to do any common human functions. Some expect me to spontaneously explode, or just kill myself. I don't even know why they think there is anything unpleasant about living without all that crap.

Is this some kind of joke?

I know a lot of people think I'm making fun of them...and I guess sometimes I am. But that's just because they believe.

Do you believe you exist?


If you don't believe in anything, why don't you just kill people?

I'm sure that's the first thing they'd do if there were no rules. Obviously the 10 commandments doesn't keep people from committing mayhem. Plenty of good religious people have murdered. The psychological need to kill is not affected by beliefs.

Wasn't Hitler a Nihilist?

It's obvious that Hitler believed a lot of things about race, power and good and bad. Maybe the problem with Hitler wasn't that he was a Nihilist, but that he believed unquestioningly in his values and world view.

Why do you make art if you don't believe in anything?

I don't think artists do what they do because they "believe" in art. Anyway I don't. I do it because I like to make art.

Isn't Nihilism a belief system? Don't you believe in Nihilism?

Word games don't change the fact that I don't believe in anything. I think "rejecting value systems" is pretty clear. This is another specious and desperate circular argument.

What do you mean that you don't believe in anything?

There is no simple answer to this question, but maybe the following will clarify what I mean when I say I don't believe in anything.

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Things I Don't Believe In


"People just make up what's right and wrong to serve their needs. Needs change, and so does right and wrong--for each culture, person and moment."


"Maybe there is some old guy with a long white beard sitting on a throne. Sure I'd be surprised...but would it really make any difference?


"Many people sacrifice much for freedom...But more people run from freedom in terror."

# 57

"One person's justice is another person's outrage."


"A family is a group of people who resent each other and wouldn't even be friends if they weren't so codependent. That may be sacred to some, but not to me."


"It comes and goes. It brings happiness and misery. You might as well believe in the gag reflex."


"Anyone who has taken as much LSD as I have knows the senses are not trustworthy. Anyone who has been fooled by a magician should know the same thing."


"Just tell me what a disordered universe would look like. I can't imagine it would be any different than this one."

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Something I Like


Something I Don't Like


Something I Like

Mick Jagger

Something I Don't Like

Paul McCartney

Something I Like

Andrew Young

Something I Don't Like

Jesse Helmes

Something I Like


Something I Don't Like

The OJ Trial

Something I Like

Andy Warhol

Something I Don't Like

Julian Schnabel

Something I Like


Something I Don't Like


Something I Like


Something I Don't Like


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This is the Way I Think the World Is

People prefer self-delusion.

Belief in God and spirits is an expression of powerlessness.

Belief in morality is an expression of self-hatred.

The world is random and chaotic.

Magic is only tricks. Tricks are always done in the simplest way, but the eye is misdirected because people love to be fooled.

I have no control over anything.

I am alone.

Death is nothing. Then we rot and fall apart.

I like it this way.

I could be wrong about any of these things.

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The following is a list of my favorite art, music, literature and non-fiction which I feel explore Nihilist themes.

Nihilism in Popular Art, Music and Literature

Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut -- Mark Twain

A letter to An Academy -- Franz Kafka

Alice in Wonderland -- Lewis Carroll

It's a Great Big Universe... -- Animaniacs

The Pirates of Penzance-- Gilbert and Sullivan

Trouble in Paradise -- Lubitch

A Night at the Opera -- Marx Brothers

It Ain't Necessarily So -- George Gershwin

The Greatest Man in the World -- James Thurber

The Strange Case of the Dead Divorcee -- Ogden Nash

The Cat in the Hat -- Dr. Seuss

The Madonna Inn -- Architecture

Candy -- Maxwell Kenton

Little Murders -- Jules Ffeifer

In The Men's Room of the 16th Century -- Don DeLillo

Sympathy for the Devil -- Mick Jagger

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas -- Hunter Thompson

What I Believe -- Steve Martin

BC Comic -- Hart

Is Nothing Sacred -- Gahan Wilson

The Life of Brian -- Monty Python

Mr. Mike's Least Loved Bed Times Stories -- O'Donahue

My Life is Good -- Randy Newman

Home Nihilism Quiz -- Elisha Shapiro

Graffiti/T-Shirts/Bumper Stickers -- Folk Art

Nihilism in the Avant-Garde

Dada Manifestos -- Tristan Tzara

Chien Andeleau -- Dali/Bunnuel

Guts -- Charles Bukowski

Bad -- Andy Warhol

Rock and Roll Nigger -- Patti Smith

For the Common Good -- Elisha Shapiro

Desperate Living -- John Waters

1984 Nihilist Olympics -- Elisha Shapiro

Performances -- Johanna Went

Cal Worthington Car Commercials -- Cal Worthington

Ancient Nihilists

Ecclesiasties -- The Old Testament

The Skeptics -- from Stoics and Skeptics by Edwyn Beven

Zen -- From Sayings of Rinzai

Intellectual Roots of Modern Nihilism

The Myth of Sisyphus -- Albert Camus

Candide -- Voltaire

Pensee -- The Marquee de Sade

Civilization and Its Discontents -- Sigmund Freud

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